Swiss churches put consecrated hosts in match boxes for faithful to take
STANS, Switzerland, April 21, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Several Catholic churches in Switzerland are offering prepackaged consecrated hosts for the faithful to take and consume at home amid the prohibition of public Masses during the coronavirus pandemic. The consecrated hosts, which, as Catholics believe, contain the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, are put into small containers that look like a match box and are made out of paper.
The official news website of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference reported about the practice in a favorable light, not asking any questions about its appropriateness.
Every Sunday, the former Capuchin church in Stans, a village south of Zurich in Switzerland, puts a bowl with dozens of match box packages containing one consecrated host each on a table in front of the sanctuary.
“Consecrated hosts to take for Communion at home,” a handwritten sign states. The parish church of Stans and a church in another place not far away provide a similar service.
According to the article on the news website of the Swiss Bishops, the churches have not asked the Diocese of Chur for approval. However, they emphasized they are abiding by the rules issued by the local government, including social distancing requirements.
However, it appears they are not similarly following a number of Church rules.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, written under Pope John Paul II in 2002, discusses the sacred vessels which are to contain the consecrated body and blood of Christ.
“Sacred vessels should be made from precious metal. If they are made from metal that rusts or from a metal less precious than gold, they should generally be gilded on the inside,” the document points out.
Bishops’ Conferences may issue their own exceptions to this rule, but never is paper mentioned. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, for instance, said “sacred vessels may also be made from other solid materials which in the common estimation in each region are considered precious or noble, for example, ebony or other harder woods, provided that such materials are suitable for sacred use.”
“In this case,” the document continues, “preference is always to be given to materials that do not easily break or deteriorate. This applies to all vessels that are intended to hold the hosts, such as the paten, the ciborium, the pyx, the monstrance, and others of this kind.”
A pyx is a small container used to take a consecrated host to a sick person. In other words, the match box packages in Switzerland compare best to a pyx.
The Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, approved by Pope John Paul II and published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2004, talks about the reception of Communion in the hand.
“Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice, if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her,” the Instruction states.
The point made next also applies to the match box packages. “However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.”
Arguably, the risk of profanation is enormous, given that nobody knows what people who take a consecrated host from a church might do with it. Even use of it during a satanic black mass – a blasphemous mockery of the Catholic Mass that usually includes the desecration of a consecrated host stolen from a Catholic church – cannot be excluded.
Even if the Eucharist is received by faithful Catholics properly disposed, the question remains what to do with the packaging. Small particles of the consecrated host, which, according to Catholic teaching, still contain the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christi, might be left in the match box. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to simply throw away the packaging.
“The sacred vessels are purified by the Priest, the Deacon, or an instituted acolyte after Communion or after Mass, in so far as possible at the credence table,” the rubrics for Holy Mass point out, according to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.
“The purification of the chalice is done with water alone or with wine and water, which is then consumed by whoever does the purification. The paten is wiped clean as usual with the purificator.” This is impossible with a small container made out of paper.
The only reason given by the Swiss churches for using paper packaging was that “paper is more useful than metal in terms of spreading the virus.” Also, there are not as many pyxes made out of metal as would be needed.
Marino Bosoppi-Langenauer, identified by the official news website of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference only as a “minister” (Seelsorger), but not as a priest, said that on Holy Saturday alone, 70 match box packages containing a consecrated host were taken from the church.
He also mentioned that other parishes in Switzerland are contemplating providing a similar service. “We had many requests by the faithful who wished to receive the Eucharist. We have therefore decided to make Communion possible in this way,” Bosoppi-Langenauer said of the reasoning in Stans.